How often have you felt good because you've eaten better, then stepped on the scale only to see no change and revert back to your old habits? Our society has become so obsessed with weight loss and the number on the scale, but in all honesty, health is so much more than that! The number on the scale does not show the bigger picture of health. Here’s why you should try not equate your health to the number on the scale.
1. Remember that your body is changing when you adopt a healthier lifestyle, but these changes may not be evident in the weight straight away. You may be gaining more lean muscle mass while losing fat, which won’t show on the scale. Muscle and fat weigh the same however; muscle is denser so it takes up less space on the body, and it stores water with it. Therefore, instead of looking at the number on the scale look at how your clothes are fitting! Your body's metabolism and system will also start improving, but this takes time especially if you are older or have dieted a lot. Normally, with time the weight loss will improve IF your body needs to lose weight.
2. Weight fluctuates each day. This could be due to water retention secondary to excessive salt intake or your hormones. What you ate or drank during the day before weighing yourself could also influence the number on the scale. Limit yourself to doing weight check-ins once a week and try to weigh yourself on the same day at the same time for the most accurate measurement. Alternatively, skip weighing yourself altogether if it is going to affect your emotions negatively. It can act as an obstruction in your journey.
3. Just because someone is thin, does not mean that they are healthy. A heavier person could have better overall health due to healthy eating habits and good activity levels in comparison to someone who is thin with poor eating habits and activity levels. This is why health needs to be assessed holistically. This involves looking at other health indicators (in addition to weight) such as energy levels, digestive health, mood, sleep, physical fitness and lab values such as insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels. Keep in mind that improved lab values such as insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels from adopting a healthier lifestyle may not change the number on the scale!
4. Your focus should be more on the process rather the end goal of a weight number. This is because you have to make daily changes to reach that end goal. So focus on feeding your body nutritious food, moving more, getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels and having time for relaxation. When your habits are good, weight loss will follow naturally.
5. Happiness can only be achieved when you are kind to yourself and you love yourself. Don’t let your happiness depend on a number on the scale. This can lead to a lot of negative thoughts about yourself and will make your journey emotionally taxing for no good reason! We can be content and happy with how we are already! Learn to accept yourself and know that you are perfect enough already.
Bottom line: Don’t let the number on the scale dishearten or demotivate you. Rather focus on your healthy habits and how that makes you feel in terms of your happiness, energy levels, mood, sleep and physical fitness. These are all indicators of health and can show that you are getting real results from your efforts at adopting a healthier lifestyle.